A Shattered Visage: Facing the Challenge of Atheism (Hodder Christian Paperbacks)
List price: £7.99|
Average customer rating:
3.0 out of 5
ISBN/ASIN : 0340671335
Manufacturer : Hodder & Stoughton Religious|
Release data : 19 September, 1996
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Eloquent defence of the faith
In the introduction, the author suggests that some readers might prefer to first read the two appendices at the end. The first: The Finger Of Truth And The Fist Of Reality shows how philosophical ideas infiltrate popular culture to enter our lives. The second: The Establishment Of A Worldview, provides the conceptual foundation upon which the framework of truth will stand. They explain the process that the author used to examine various concepts in order to arrive at his conclusions.
Part One deals with mankind as the measure of all things. In the chapter Morticians Of the Absolute, the author shows how determinism, Freud's views on religion and Darwinian theory have placed theism under severe pressure. The assault of atheism has become manifest in the political arena with totalitarian movements like communism and fascism. The author considers Nietzsche with his profound hatred of religion as the bridge between the 19th and 20th centuries, since he exerted a strong influence on, amongst others, Freud, Yeats, Jung and George Bernard Shaw . A passage from The Madman is quoted here. There are prescient quotes by GK Chesterton and Malcolm Muggeridge, to the effect that they foresaw that atheism would lead to violence and hedonism.
The second chapter looks at the doctrine of atheism - the belief that there is no God, which is an affirmation of God's non-existence. The author refers to various thinkers like Mary Hesse, Jurgen Habermas, Stephen Jay Gould, John Polkinghorne and Sir Fred Hoyle and considers the 2nd law of thermodynamics by asking the question of how biological systems manage to swim against the entropic stream. It makes absolute sense that scientists ought to maintain a judicious agnosticism about the obvious limitations of human understanding.
In chapter three: Virtue In Distress, the matters of purpose and morality are discussed. Zacharias demonstrates that the idea of being good has in popular culture been replaced by the idea of feeling good, in a twisting vortex of relativising. The traditional underpinnings of society have been ridiculed, which explains some of the present moral confusion. Very importantly, the author shows how secular philosophy cannot logically answer the question of how to determine right from wrong. Without God there is no starting point for ethical theorists. He provides interesting quotes from Alasdair MacIntyre (After Virtue) and Paul Johnson (Intellectuals). In their own lives, many intellectuals separated their mental skills from their moral practices, for example Sartre, Hemingway and Bertrand Russell. Nietzsche's influence on Hitler is discussed and the author concludes that morality as goodness cannot be justified with atheistic presuppositions. In other words, atheism's morality is unlivable.
The chapter: Sisyphus On A Roll deals with the issue of meaning and the problems of pleasure and pain. Here the author quotes from the lament of Voltaire, Solomon's Ecclesiastes and from Blaise Pascal, to show that without God there is no meaning. Only God can fill the emptiness within. The next chapter deals with death and quotes extensively from the book of Job. No hope exists in the naturalist universe. The shattered visage of atheism offers only the stare of death and a barren desert of despair. On the other hand, the book of Job offers hope in the response of God after all the questions, discussions and lamentations.
Part Two is about God, the treasure of life's pursuits. Zacharias acknowledges that the Christian faith has suffered severely at the hands of both its defenders and detractors. He shows how its detractors have assaulted it and how many of its adherents have cheapened it or made it incomprehensible. The narrative then discusses the journey of CS Lewis from atheism to Christianity. The author shows how the love of God stimulates a desire for studying the creation and concludes that Christ adds balance and detail to truth. Chapter seven: With Larger Eyes Than Ours, takes up the argument from design and demonstrates how the shackle of determinism is broken. Love precedes biological life and there is a moral nature to the universe. Chesterton, Lewis and Dennis Prager are some of the many authors quoted where it is explained how God puts things in perspective. The value of the individual and the meaning of relationships are also discussed here.
Every chapter of the main text concludes with questions for study and discussion. The book concludes with copious notes arranged by chapter. The Real Face Of Atheism is rather more difficult and intellectual than the two other books of his that I have read: Light In The Shadow Of Jihad and Deliver Us From Evil. But it is still accessible because of the author's engaging writing style and the way that he integrates the thoughts and observations of so many other authors into the text.
A Shattered Logic: The Real Face of Christian Apologetics
All Zacharias had to do to discredit atheism was to prevent compelling evidence (or at least a decent argument) for the existence of his bronze-age tribal war god. With this book he failed. The best he could conjure up was ad hominem attacks against atheists. If this is the best Christian apologetics can do to denounce atheism, I truly pity them. Perhaps somewhere in the future we can expect a better "argued" refutation of atheism. I will not be holding my breath.
Regardless, this book will remain on my bookshelf, if for anything, as a monument to the horrible usage of logic. Anyone can learn how NOT to argue a point from this wonderful tome.
Without a doubt, this is the most sophist attack on atheism I've ever seen. The author provides few logical arguments in general, and he never tries to refute atheist arguments against God or shore up theist arguments; instead, he resorts to personal attacks and dubious literary references (such as one claiming that Kantian ethics is inherently evil). The author is a low-grade hack of a philosopher. If you're a serious atheist, this book will give you a good belly-laugh.